Maid in Merchant of Venice / FRI 2-5-10 / Mexican play places / 1972 Pulitzer winner for Commentary / O naked Moon full Browning

Friday, February 5, 2010

Constructor: Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging


Word of the Day: AHMAD Jamal (25D: Jamal of jazz)

Jamal was one of Miles Davis's favorite pianists and was a key influence on the trumpeter's "First Great Quintet" (featuring John Coltrane on tenor saxophone, Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Philly Joe Jones on drums). Davis had long admired Jamal's use of space and dynamics, and had asked Wynton Kelly to "sound more like Ahmad Jamal" on the track "Freddie Freeloader" on the landmark album Kind of Blue. (wikipedia)

[check out the hepcats in the background — like, crazy, man]
• • •

Once again, solving late-week puzzles first thing in the morning proves not the brightest idea. But I got home from work yesterday and had dinner and watched a tiny bit of TV and I was done. Asleep before puzzle even came out online. So I struggled a bit with the puzzle this morning, though in retrospect there was no one good reason for the struggle. Maybe my brain wasn't processing "?" and misdirective clues as well as it might have later in the day. Anyway, looking back, there's just one real sticking point that I can see: the ORBED region of the puzzle (35A: "O naked Moon full-___!": Browning). I couldn't parse that one to save my life. Figured it was going to be (yet another) partial, something whimsical like "O' something" ("full-o'-beans?" "full-o'-milk?") or "OR something" or "OF something." Couldn't remember if [Jamal of jazz] was AHMAL or AHMAD (tho' AHMAL JAMAL sounds ridiculous, and I think it was only on my mind because of the crosswordy AMAHL of Menotti's "AMAHL and the Night Visitors"). Ended up finishing the puzzle at that crossing, guessing (correctly) "D" while having no clue how "OR BED" could work there. But of course it's one word, ORBED. [Cough]. OK, moving on.

No, actually, staying right there. Another reason that general section was tough was I'd never heard of ENTENTE CORDIALE (2D: Summit successes). ENTENTE, yes, but as I'm not French and this is not ... whatever decade people used this term, I'd never heard the CORDIALE part. Inferred after much hacking at crosses. More trouble down here: ODOR as a [Podiatric problem] is true enough but ridiculously non-foot-specific as an answer, so didn't see that. Also had RUNS AT for GOES AT (32A: Charges). Couldn't remember the first vowel in NERISSA (4A: Maid in "Merchant of Venice").

Made steady and consistent, if not fast, progress through the rest of the grid. Long answers were not as grid-opening as they usually are for me because none of the phrases were terribly obvious, even when parts of the phrases were in place. ONCE ... went to ONCE IN A BLUE MOON at first; corrected to ONCE IN A LIFETIME (which I like better as a Talking Heads song) (15A: Very rarely indeed). Same issue came up with DIALS ... and I'M ... and ACROSS ... and ENTENTE ... Wasn't able to throw the answer down immediately. Long Acrosses down below were far easier to get than the others, perhaps because I started at the back end. Middle south region proved a little thorny, with BOYCOTTS (31D: Doesn't buy, in a way) and RETCH (39A: Heave) being hidden behind very vague clues. ROLEO (42A: Loggers' contest) finally got me some purchase in there. I wrapped things up here ... except for that final letter that I mentioned earlier: ORBED / AHMAD!

  • 1A: Mexican play places (teatros) — Got 1A instantly. Thought maybe puzzle would thus be a cinch. Not exactly.
  • 17A: They're often tipped on sidewalks (street musicians) — knew it was some version of "buskers," and once STREET came into view, I got it.
  • 25A: Title town in a 1945 Pulitzer-winning novel (Adano) — gimme! Super-crosswordesey place name. See also ASTI (23A: Italian province or its capital).
  • 47A: Big-top worker with a big responsibility (elephant trainer) — is he training just the one ELEPHANT? Singular "responsibility" suggests so.
  • 3D: Like an extradition transition (across-the-border) — if you are extraditing to a neighboring country, OK. But if you are extraditing to a non-adjacent country, then multiple borders are involved. Wanted something like ACROSS [something] LINES.
  • 5D: Indochinese currency (riel) — more help from crosswordese (though I think I had RIAL here at first).
  • 6D: Bruce Peninsula locale: Abbr. (Ont.) — guessed off the "O." I really did start strong ... then faded a bit.
  • 7D: Some tearoom equipment (samovars) — a lovely, exotic-sounding word.
  • 26D: 1972 Pulitzer winner for Commentary (Royko) — thought "Commentary" was the title of whatever it was he won the Pulitzer for. But it's just the category. ROYKO was a longtime columnist for various Chicago papers.
  • 36D: 1993 Grammy winner for Best Mexican-American Album (Selena) — Jennifer Lopez played her in the movie of the same name, somewhere back in the horrid '90s.
  • 43D: Poison apple creator? (alar) — first thought: JOBS.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Elaine 7:18 AM  

Rex is right; should have had coffee before trying this one. Usually I run through the blanks and have some entries to get me started, but this time...all I had was ITI and then A TALE [of Simple Folk], (which was wrong)...and nuthin'...

Finally I went clue by clue through the Downs, and BRYANT let me in the door. I miss reading Mike ROYKO! and for some reason I recalled [A Bell for] ADANO, one of the early WWII novels. So, after a while I had the SW to NE diagonal filled in, and very little else.

I just plain gave up and googled 'Jamal of jazz' ...but ultimately finished with an error-- SERENA instead of SELENA, since ROREO made as much sense as anything. Wee personal Natick. ROLEO is a new one on me....

Ah, well. Win some, lose some. Ya got me, Joe Krozel!

HudsonHawk 7:19 AM  

Impressive grid with eight 15s and only 19 black squares, and an unusually smooth Friday for me.

I started in the NE with IT I and DECS and rolled merrily down the Eastern Seaboard, across the South and worked my way back to the NW. I was also not familiar with the CORDIALE ending, but with _ORDIAL_ in place, it wasn't too tough to sniff out. (Is that your feet? Eww.)

foodie 7:19 AM  

"Once in a blue moon was my first answer" and hard to get rid of.
I wanted "I'm in not in the mood".
and "O naked moon full OF RED"...
That lower middle area was not very cheering, with RETCH and BOYCOTT... But it was solvable after a struggle, so I'd agree with Rex's rating.

I too love that word SAMOVAR- very evocative.

The Bard 7:38 AM  

The Merchant of Venice > Act I, scene II

PORTIA: By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is aweary of
this great world.

NERISSA: You would be, sweet madam, if your miseries were in
the same abundance as your good fortunes are: and
yet, for aught I see, they are as sick that surfeit
with too much as they that starve with nothing. It
is no mean happiness therefore, to be seated in the
mean: superfluity comes sooner by white hairs, but
competency lives longer.

PORTIA: Good sentences and well pronounced.

NERISSA: They would be better, if well followed.

imsdave 7:39 AM  

The bark proved worse than the bite. I saw all that white and was pretty much terrified. In the end, a smooth enjoyable solve in about a normal time. Re: Once in a Lifetime:


Zeke 7:59 AM  

About a year ago I picked up several really good pointers here about approaching a puzzle such as this, e.g. stacked 15's are your friends, not your foe. When presented with vast swatches of white space, just sit and stare at it for a while.
All of this permitted me to be shocked when I saw Rex's rating - at one time a correctly finished Friday translated to Super Easy.

Ben 8:07 AM  

Loved this puzzle. Enjoyed all the white space with interesting fill. Nice work, Joe Krozel.

Unlike yesterday's anagram jumble, which I finished with a few errors after 28 un-fun minutes, I was pleasantly surprised to complete this one in 18 minutes. It was a grind at times but progress never stopped, and unlike yesterday always enjoyable.

Also like SAMOVARS. Also speak French (like Rex) and had never heard of ENTENTE CORDIALE. Still, had never seen so many ENTENTES since H.S. world history until I started doing crosswords.

Re evening/morning, I tend to have the exact opposite problem: when I start a tough puzzle late on a day when I'm tired, it can be a slog. If I leave it for first thing in the morning, I do better. (Same is true with writing: the words flow best just after I wake up.) This was a case where I did OK at night.

Quibbling with Rex for a second, ODOR was specific enough. (Who has malodorous elbows?) Also, I would submit that an ELEPHANT TRAINER might work with multiple elephants.

FOr TEATROS, at first I put PELOTAS because I misread clue as "Mexican play pieces." Soon enough I realized it was wrong and changed it to PESETAS. Eventually I had my second d'oh! moment and the NW fell into place.

Finally, the Chicagoan in me is embarrassed that for the Pulitzer winner I had ROY__ and stared blankly at it. I was assuming it was some East Coast grandee like Safire or Lippmann, so I was thinking something like ROYAL, ROYCE, etc. I used to read Royko every day, have several of his books on my shelf and even met the guy. Sorry about that, Slats Grobnik.

Rex Parker 8:10 AM  

Ben, you misunderstand. My point was that ODOR is itself not a foot-pathology-specific word, i.e. it can apply to anything with a smell; unlike, say, BUNION. It was thus hard to uncover from the clue alone.

Whether other parts of your body stink is irrelevant.


Unknown 8:44 AM  

Any Friday puzzle that I finish on Thursday night with no errors is FABULOUS! Subjectivity aside though, really nice puzzle.

Some of the same missteps as well as spur for odor (had just the r at first so it seemed perfect. Unitl it wasn't)

For summit success I was thinking 'cresting everest' which fits, but fortunately I already had the long acrosses at the bottom (solve was all over the place) or that would have seriously messed me up.

Lotsa fun; challenging and rewarding.

OldCarFudd 8:46 AM  

Very smooth, very pleasant, very easy. I had heard of ENTENTE CORDIALE, so that helped. I don't understand 24A - is this some Microsoft thing? I'm not sure ODOR followed by RETCH passes the breakfast test! And (showing my age here) I wanted "Dials M for Murder" for 12D - it fits!

foodie 8:53 AM  

Rex, I laughed at the last sentence of your comment to Ben,
but couldn't decide whether or not I wanted to comment. Meanwhile, I got an e-mail and was composing a response to it. I needed to paste a bit of information at the end. I was this far from sending the e-mail when I noticed that I had pasted:

"Whether other parts of your body stink is irrelevant."

Need I say that this was not going to a friend or family member? Not even close.

Ben 8:54 AM  

Rex, I was waiting for you to say something like that. I see your point, but did not make my own clearly enough.

The difference lies in our reading of the word "podiatric." I took it to mean something relating to feet in general, where you were looking for something more clinical that a podiatrist might treat.

I.e., you were looking for a foot pathology problem, where I was looking for a foot problem. Thus the answer is problematic given your take, but not mine.

Bob Kerfuffle 8:55 AM  

Great Friday puzzle. Took me 45 minutes, two write-overs: RIAL before RIEL; ELEPHANTHANDLER before ELEPHANT TRAINER.

I used to read Mike ROYKO in syndication and loved him. Unfortunately, before the end of his life, if I may mix a metaphor, he put feet of clay in his mouth.

So, off to Austria for a week of skiing. If I make it back, hope to see you all at the ACPT in two weeks.

joho 8:56 AM  

I started late last night and was immediately put off by just nineteen black squares (DIAL(S)NINEONEONE!) along with Krozel at the top. I didn't get far but upon awaking had a much better go at it. I was surprised that I finished and I thought correctly until coming here. I had aNT as in Antarctica and therefore TEATRas: no no duh!

Anybody else have aisLE before getting EFILE?

Even with one mistake I loved this puzzle ... thanks, Joe!

@Bob K ... have a great trip and watch out for the trees!

Ben 8:59 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle, agreed. Royko's powers waned significantly before he gave up the ghost.

See you in Bklyn.

p.s. @Foodie, I just got out of the shower and my feet smell amazing. :)

Gary K 9:21 AM  

Krozel's puzzle is an amazing accomplishment, and it made for a most satisfying solve.

Every grid spanner is entirely natural. DIALSNINEONEONE, ONCEINALIFETIME, and MADEAMENTALNOTE are brilliant. (Some people are calling foul on ENTENTECORDIALE, but in a European History course many years ago we read a skinny book about the events leading up to the clusterf*** of WWI, so for me it was OK.)

There were some good clues, too, e.g. "Stock option" and "'1, 2, 3' lead-in."

I've been working with my son for months to make a NYT-worthy puzzle with 25 blocks and 2 grid-spanners, so to see such an elegant puzzle with 19 blocks and 8 spanners (8 spanners!) just blew me away.

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

When research doesn't help. Wanted to confirm Selena on 36 down only to find via NYT archive that Linda Rondstadt was the 1993 Grammy winner for best Mexican-American album. Selena won in 1994 so I guess clue meant when the album came out.

Dough 9:31 AM  

A beautiful puzzle. Big props to Joe Krozel. I knew ENTENTE CORDIALE from somewhere. I'm no diplomat, but they do make really scary negotiations seem civilized by using a few big French terms. I knew ROLEO, but is that real? Did some constructor convince his lexicographer friend to throw that into the dictionary? I also had ONCE IN A BLUE MOON in there until Patti LuPone arrived. A great Friday puzzle. Now it's time to prepare for the snow!

nanpilla 9:44 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle : have a great trip. Hope you are leaving today - the weather may not cooperate with air travel this weekend!

Loved this puzzle. Didn't know ENTENTE CORDIALE, but managed to figure it out. For the longest time I had sHArPS instead of CHAMPS(thinking music) making it hard to suss out. The rest of the puzzle was amazingly smooth for so much wide open space - I was surprised that the rating wasn't easy. With so few short words, this was a beauty! Thanks, Joe.

jesser 9:45 AM  

Well, I am defeated. I ripped through the east side and had the long acrosses down at the bottom, which gave me ENTENTE, five spaces and then ALE. Hands up for RUNS AT, which would not work, but it sure looked like REALMEN were Marine candidates. (Must remember movie titles!) The bad E made me think the damn moon was an ember, which it was not. Never heard of the jazz guy (I prefer music with lyrics) and long story somewhat shorter? That area of the pulle kicked my Krozel.
I hate when that happens, but there's no one to blame but me. Joe did his job! Nice write-up, Rex!
jesser, licking wounds and rooting for The Saints (despite that no-likey-jazz thing I have going on)

mitchs 10:01 AM  

Here's an embarrassing one: I had NINEELEVEN for a while...until I was saved by recalling Homer's famous line "Quick, what's the number for 911?!"

(Since there was a conspicuous absence of Simpsons clues in this field of white from Mr. Krozel I thought I'd make up for it here.)

SethG 10:03 AM  

ROLEO is virtually only used in puzzles anymore, but it was big in like the '40s. Some guy named Clay Perry seems to have invented it. I note this only so I'll remember it next time.

SERENA. Started with KYOTO for SEOUL, BREED for BROTH, PCS, A POLL, POP IN, RUNS AT, CEO... I assumed it was Jamal AHMAD, still filled it in from the xHMxx.

This was a pretty grid.

sillygoose 10:17 AM  

I took a peek at the puzzle and was encouraged by TEATROS so I kept on going and the top half fell quickly. I needed some help in the bottom half - never heard of NARISSA and I googled for ORBED even tho I had the __BED in place.

Very fun puzzle.

Martin 10:25 AM  

@Anon 9:29

The official Grammy search site is a good research tool.

It confirms that Selena won the 1993 award (the one awarded in 1994).

Van55 10:25 AM  

I hate to confess that this puzzle kicked my butt, but it did. Not because it is a bad puzzle, I just wasn't on its wavelength I guess.

I was interested to read at the wordplay blog that 19 black squares is second lowest ever for a NYTimes crossword. The record of 18 is said to be held by Kevin Der.

Congratulations to Mr. Ktozel for an exceptional piece of puzzle construction!

slypett 10:30 AM  

Finished it in way less than an hour, which, for me, on a Friday, is like 6' for a normal person.

Loved the Jamal clip. I hate contemporary jazz It is overbred, saccharine, laundered, Berklee/Juilliard-grad- over-composed, lacking a sense of being. Today's young jazzsters should take more hard drugs, stay up till dawn, drink far more whiskey. It would do them a world of good.

Ruth 10:32 AM  

@mitchs--also recall "what do you mean, call 9-eleven? There's no eleven on this phone!" That may have been a blonde joke, not a Homerism.
My fastest Friday ever, I think--13.5 minutes. Love me a Joe K almost every time!

Unknown 10:37 AM  

One fervid Mike Royko reader here.
I suggest:

poc 10:39 AM  

ENTENTECORDIALE usually refers to a specific French-British agreement in the early 20th century (look it up).

I fell afoul of OLEO, though I'd heard of SELENA.

Never heard of BRYANT Lane, but got it on crosses.

NTS is wrong. NT is a version of Windows, not a "Windows option" (you want fries with that?)

lit.doc 10:39 AM  

Seems like there ought to be a stronger word than “challenging” for an “__ as in fail” (the ugliest of eff words). Very slow going for me, and I couldn’t have finished without googling liberally (to be clear, I *do* know what “liberally” means).

So for me, questions of technique. The stacked/crossed 15s still scare the crap out of me and, no surprise, they precluded my usual “work small area across and down, attempt to fill, rinse and repeat” strategy. Plan B was make a pass through all the acrosses, then all the downs, and hope that enough filled squares constellate to find some traction. Limited success there, too, as the answers I had were so evenly distributed across the grid.

Anyone have a pet strategy for approaching a puzzle of this sort? @Elaine, you mentioned that your early success came from working the SW-NE diagonal; was this a conscious strategy, or just how things fell out?

@Zeke, interesting observation re the 15s. Though I’m not on friendly terms with them by any means, I noticed that they did become visible and deliver big payoffs with relatively few crosses.

PlantieBea 10:45 AM  

O naked Moon full-ORBER sounded okay to me. And so did IdAHO and LUPOHE. D'oh on the LUPONE whom I should have known since I loved her in Les Miz.

Corrections I did manage to make were over I'M NOT IN TOWN THEN, and BLUE MOON. My last fill was the N in INNIE and A NEST; had to do the alphabet run for that N, too, and there were lots of possibilites for the SIMPLE FOLK...A BEST, FEST, JEST, etc., with my favorite being A PEST of SIMPLE FOLK. Hey, it could have been the title of a Margaret Atwood type book. Thankfully the belly buttons saved me with the N.

Well done, Joe Krozel!

Stan 10:47 AM  

A satisfying wrestle. Really pleased that I managed to finish a Medium-Challenging Friday.

It didn't help that I wanted ROBED for ORBED (makes no sense, but the B worked) and that well-known psychological novel: ANGST of Simple Folk.

Scott 10:53 AM  

43D: Poison apple creator? (alar) — first thought: JOBS.

Interesting JOBS was my first thought for "40 Down: 90% of people have them"

dk 10:57 AM  

Speaking of white space -- Bob k: Hips over boots, stand tall, weight forward and on the balls of your feet, start turns from the foot, roll those edges and when ever you think you are forward enough stand tall (no bending at the waist) and press those shins to your boot tops. We will have no skiing ducks (butt out and back) from this blog. Have fun!

Fine Friday fare. SAMOVARS was the first fill followed by ONCEINALIFETIME and ELEPHANTTRAINER. Could not remember SELENA and wanted Linda Ronstadt but of course it did not fit, she did not win the Grammy that year, etc. The rest of the fill came in the fullness of time.

Rex, thanks for the shout out. It is true I have long admired Jamal's use of space and dynamics :)

**** (4 Stars)

Zeke 11:03 AM  

@Lit Doc. What I learned here is that solving a puzzle like this isn't like solving a really difficult version of an early week puzzle, that there's a fundamental difference. Having memorized the OED will stand you in good stead on a super-difficult Monday type puzzle, is of no use here. For these puzzles I look not at individual clues but at blocks. (For those who wonder how the superfast solvers do it, that's my hypothesis - they solve in blocks. Watch Tyler in the finals on WordPlay. Mind you, it's purely a conjecture on my part, I'm the proverbial fat man in a race)

Using the extreme NW I just hypothesized a few possible answers. 15A was ONCE___. 17A was STREET___. These possibilities, coupled with similar guesses for the downs confirmed themselves and voila, I had the seeds for the 15s. There are only two possibilities for ONCE___, the lifetime and bluemoon options, really only one for STREET___, and the two 15s totally open up the entire north.

Two Ponies 11:07 AM  

This one would have gone much faster if I had been training elephants instead of handling them.
To top it off I was all smug Miss Smarty-pants about getting the clue.
I also mis-read places as pieces for 1A.
I had _oy__ for 26D and could only think of Bill Moyer or is it Moyers? Doesn't matter since it got fixed.
I loved all of the long answers.
Last to fall was a personal Natick at Ahmal/Adano. Rex said it was a gimme but not for me.
I loved roleo. I'm guessing that is a bit of wordplay off rodeo.
Thanks Joe k.!
Slypett is probably going to get some grief from jazz fans but I happen to agree with him.
@ Bob K, Be careful. We don't want to have to send dk to rescue you :)

retired_chemist 11:11 AM  

Nice puzzle. Good workout.

Hand up for ANTarctica and thus TEATRAS. I know Spanish better than that, albeit not well. I finished with that one error.

Also hand up for ONCE IN A BLUE MOON (first fill, "gave" me ANT 2 6D), ROBED with the same reservation as @Stan, POP IN @ 26A, and a short-lived BEST MEN @ 32D.

Resisted RETCH @ 39A until about the eighth inning. Could not help but think of being abbreviated once or twice as Ret_Ch, so probably something subconscious there. :-)

FWIW I bet foot ODOR is something a podiatrist will treat, or at least recommend a protocol to treat, if it is annoying enough to merit intervention. Body odors usually have to do with overgrowth of skin bacteria in anatomical locations where one sweats most. Breakfast, anyone?

Thanks, Mr. Krozel.

ArtLvr 11:15 AM  

I was very happy with this one -- Wanted MERMAN where LUPONE ended up and thought SPUR for ODOR and PTR for partner before DIR. Otherwise the revelations unrolled smoothly.

My first long down I'M NOT INTERESTED gave me the TIME, leading to ONCE IN A LIFETIME. INNIE helped to find the MENTAL NOTE, and I was glad that "Big" was used twice in the ELEPHANT clue!

My thanks to Joe Krozel -- and also to my excellent world history teacher in high school! I think he did his dissertation on the century-long BORDER wars between Japan and Russia from 1855 on over possession of Sakhalin, Urup and the Kurile Islands, where the Ainu live. Students probably remember his passion for them to this day, and I'm always waiting for these to show up in xwords!


Martin 11:17 AM  


Another "entente cordiale" to look up.

"NT 3.5," "NT 3.51," "NT 4.0" are (or at least were) options to run on your Windows computers. Technically, we're still using NT. For instance, Windows 7 is internally identified as NT 6.1.

Elaine 11:36 AM  

It's LANE BRYANT, a store for, um, plus-sized females. I haven't ever been in one (yet) but they are everywhere.

The ENTENTE CORDIALE was a specific agreement, as someone noted above. I recalled the phrase from the dim past in (gack) world history...but it was the last long phrase to go in for me, partly for the reason described below.

I always try to find a starter somewhere in the puzzle, (and for me, it's rarely 1A.) Then I expand from that answer. Despite my having EFILE at once, that corner did not click, so I dropped below the diagonal dividing line, where BRYANT gave me an In. The SW had me buffaloed, as I had A FEW MEN (duh)for 32D. I should have just taken a break, but instead I used Google for the jazz guy. I kept trying to think of trousers named something__AMPS (belted!) and on and on... Basically, I just confused mySELF. I guess "the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself!"

I am impressed by all of the people who found this a walk in the park. Good on you. Maybe this is payback, as I thought yesterday's was a great little romp. (Rueful smile.)

bookmark 11:45 AM  

Thanks again @The Bard. Your language continues to ring true. Please come see us more often.

I actually finished this one fairly quickly with no Googles. A real coup for me. Must be the fish oil my doctor prescribed.

Moonchild 11:50 AM  

This one looked pretty scary.
There were so many possible answers for those long stretches.
Street magicians was close but no cigar.
Did that maid have a big enough part to make it into a crossword? Really?
Screeds?? That looks more like one of these word verifier things than a real word.
Looksees was cute.
Fan sounds was clever too.
2D sounds like a friendly cocktail.

Ulrich 12:03 PM  

@slypett: Thanks for saying what I have been thinking for a long time, but didn't dare to announce!

Since nobody has questioned/explained the elephant trainer clue, I must assume that it's clear to everybody but me--so, could some kind soul set me straight?

The puzzle: Great look and pretty grid--yet doable for a lesser light like me, except for the ROLEO/SELENA crossing, where I guessed the wrong letter...

Anonymous 12:10 PM  

Big-top = circus
Big = elephant

lit.doc 12:18 PM  

@Zeke and @Elaine, thanks for taking the time to help!

@Stan, please post the ISBN for "Angst of Simple Folk". I really must add that one to my Irish lit shelf.

And now I find out that Fusio was Nerissa's boyfriend.

Susan 1:12 PM  

Rex, you made my day calling this one medium-challenging! For whatever reason, I was on the right wave-length today and finished in a very fast Friday time.

JMorgie 1:39 PM  

Definitely challenging -- got stuck on wonce in blue moon for the longest.

highly recommend A Bell for Adano as a great read and pretty good movie.

In my mind i always see samovar as CAMOBAP since i had 4 yrs of Russian way back when.

miriam b 2:05 PM  

I too was stuck with the blue moon until LUPONE came along to help me out.

SAMOVAR didn't occur to me for a little while, but it should have been a gimme, as I own two heirloom specimens, one of which (the one from my mother's side) looks remarkably like the one on the Soviet stamp. The copy on the stamp says that the SAMOVAR depicted dates from the second half of the eighteenth century. Mine were both made at the tail end of the nineteenth; apparently this design (known as the "turnip") stood the test of time. Practically all SAMOVARs were made in Tula, which in medieval times had been the principal source of armor. There's lots more SAMOVAR lore available to interested Googlers.

I just loved this puzzle; can't praise it enough. Thanks, Mr. Krozel.

@Susan: I too was on the right wavelength.

Masked and Anonymous 2:09 PM  

Well, I found this puzzle to be on the mean side of Saturday-ness. Didn't help that I wanted RAWMEAT for the Marine recruit entry. For Browning's quote, figured it would be something on the order of moon full-O'CHEESE, which wouldn't fit; and full-O'EDAM or full-O'BRIE or full-O'FETA just seemed so wrong...

Good warmup for Saturday's puz, I'm afraid...
Verification word: Amcip...mmmm...amcip

mac 2:17 PM  

My favorite kind of puzzle! Thanks Mr. Krozel.

Nineteen black squares! All those long answers! They don't scare me as much as they used to, they really help out when you get at least a part of it right. Wanted "Once in a blue moon" and "I'm not in the mood", and seriously wanted "pedestrians" in 17A and spur for odor. Had rupe (personal Var.) for riel. Looksees was a gimme, but I erased it once or twice.... Love innie!

I also had teatros at once, and the b in "orbed" last. Was afraid "Decs" was to simple, so left it out for a while.

So much to like in this puzzle.

@mitchs: LOL!

@Bob Kerfuffle: safe travels and see you at the ACPT.

Blanche 2:21 PM  

Liked this puzzle a lot. Loved the witty cluing. A fast, fun solve (even though heave/retch at breakfast time was a little yucky).

I acquired an antique CAMOVAP when I lived in Moscow.

Blanche 2:24 PM  

Oops, that should have been CAMOBAP

Doc John 2:41 PM  

I'm just happy to finish a Krozel with no mistakes on the same day it came out!

Definitely not "same as it ever was!"

andrea looksees michaels 3:10 PM  

They had this puzzle as the final at the Silicon Valley Puzzle day last weekend and we got to solve it same time as the finalists.
Finished in less than 8 minutes, my fastest ever for a Friday and before two of the finalists...
(Third place finisher, Jonathan Berman made the mistake that many made by not knowing CORDIALE and writing COrDIALa/NaRISSA)

Normally I'm not on a Joek wavelength but I thought this was a pretty amazing grid.
Finishing so quickly I felt very proud of myself, except that it was moot, bec I couldn't do a puzzle standing up in front of folks to save my life and the fact that I had made one square errors on BOTH the Mon and Tues puzzles made sure I would never get the chance to be up there!

@Two ponies, @Dough, @sethg
Yes, I think ROLEO is a play on Rodeo...I learned this word when Rich Norris changed one of my entries in an LA Times puzzle. (It had either been ROLEX or RODEO, I don't remember) but I was freaked bec I hated having a word I didn't know, that sounded so made up in my own puzzle!
But apparently it's been around for a long time and now recognizing it is easy as falling off a log! ;)

I LOVE when @the Bard drops in to comment in Rexworld! Makes me feel all pseudo-educated and happy and the appearance of every obscure maid in Shakespeare balances out every minor character in the Simps... d'oh! Nevermind...

your JOBS was sort of a cosmic malapop with Rex!
(cue Twilight Zone music)

I laughed at your original comment about smelly elbows! Yick! Maybe the medical term is "smelbows"?

And here's something crazy that happened yesterday...

I was en route to play Scrabble with some friends in the Fillmore (not my neighborhood) and as I was crossing the street, a woman started honking and waving crazily.

I knew I knew her but it was so out of context I didn't know from where. She rolled down the window and said "Will I see you at the ACPT?"
I said "Yes, I leave next week, where are you going right now?"
(Still trying to place her and the man in the car with her)
She said she didn't know and drove off before I could figure out who she was!

It turns out it was Evie Eyzenberg, Will's close friend, a judge at the ACPT for the last 30+ years and my doppelnommer (as my last name used to be Eisenberg)
She lives in NY and is here in SF for an antique paper show.

It's a sign!

edmcan 3:21 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clark 3:25 PM  

Knew AHMAD from my jazz days.

Couldn’t make heads or tails of 2D. I just decided to ignore it completely and deal with it last. ENTEN_ECORDIAL_ ?? Once I flipped the French switch I could see it.

SethG -- Love the positive anymore.

hazel 3:50 PM  

Today I was the cosine to JoeK's sine, 1/2 step behind but still able to follow his lead all the way through. Its a victory for me (yea for us @ docjohn!) - i too have struggled mightily in the past with his late-week puzzles.

Lots of entries brought smiles, SAMOVARS and ELEPHANTTRAINER (my first two entries!) and LOOKSEES, and EFILE - an E-WORD that we really use!

Always thought ADANO was a person, not a place. Looking forward to reading it now.

Auntie AnaGram 4:00 PM  

For all the folk who hate anagrams-- I never got back to the blog yesterday, so here is an approach that may help you next time the dreaded things appear:

Use either Scrabble tiles or paper slips with the necessary letters. Sounds silly, but for some bright people, visual modality is not the strongest and having a motor activity 'unlocks' the process.

First, look for possible arrangements with the consonants, leaving the vowels in view above. *Consonants carry the most "information" about a word.*

You already know combinations that are NOT found in English-- GB...FN...PZ--so your first move is to find common combinations. Example: SL, ST, STR, SC, SP. If there is an H, look for the usual suspects: CH, SH, PH, GH, GHT. Use the same approach with vowels, if nothing has jumped out at you. Pattern recognition is your friend. People with strong auditory learning modalities benefit from working out loud.

Using this approach won't convince you to love anagrams, probably, but it makes them more do-able. Or you can just toss the puzzle aside.

chefwen 4:07 PM  

This was the most fun Friday (actually Thursday night) puzzle I can remember doing. Hand up for blue moon and pop in, and I will admit to a few googles, but finishing a Friday in, for me, record time was a wonderful way to spend the evening.

When we lived in Milwaukee I subscribed to the Sunday Chicago Trib. just for Mike ROYKO, and of course the Sunday puzzle. It usually arrived around midnight on Saturday and I would stay up 'til the wee hours working the puzzle.

Stellar puzzle Mr. Krozel, thank you.

jae 4:42 PM  

Yes, a fun workout from Mr. Krozel. I found lots of this on the easy side, especially the 15s (with the exception of ENTEN... which I needed my bride's help with to resolve the A vs. E toss up at the end). That said, I got seriously bogged down in the N-Center by putting in LUPINO (flashing back to last week I presume) and blanking on SAMOVARS. It took a while to unravel that area.

PC 4:51 PM  

@slypett**You're kidding, yes? I agree with your comments about young rote jazz musicians but not with the solution. Drugs and alcohol do not good players make or anything else without talent.

Jazz got tagged in the 40's and 50's for extensive d and a use (deservedly so); those days are pretty much gone, but the sterotype lives. Reasonably good health is necessary for the hassle of travel, lack of sleep, often poor nutrition, and the need for an original performance at each venue.

D and A often = early death (Chet Baker, Bix Beiderbecke, Billie Holiday, Coletrane and Bird). An article that interviews Ellington, Gillespie, Adderley, et al. in Playboy Nov. 1960 on d and a use and its effect on performance is current for its time and very interesting.

I tip my hat to someone who knows jazz and cares about its present state.

Phineas Newborn Jr. 5:33 PM  

"Ahmad Jamal at the Pershing" is worth checking out. Jamal knows how to craft an arrangement. He has an impeccable ear for detail.
My favorites tunes:
"Poinciana" (dig the groove at 2:10) is more complex than it appears at first listening. Vernel Founier, on drums, creates a distinctive beat that really propels the tune.
"Music! Music! Music!" is one of the happiest creations ever.
Ahmad Jamal worked with bassist Israel Crosby, Malcolm-Jamal Warner worked with Bill Cosby. The mind reels...

nebraska doug 5:35 PM  


Parsan 5:52 PM  

@Phineas Newborn Jr.--The late great baritone sax player Nick Brignola had an album titled "Poinciana". Still am listening to Jamal's "Chicago Revisited", record in 1992 at the Jazz Showcase. "Daahoud" and "Dance to the Lady" favorite tunes.

Ulrich 6:05 PM  

@anon at 12:10: Thx

@slypett, PC and followers: When I agreed with Slypett, it was about the state of jazz nowadays, not D&A use.

Here's a hypothesis I'm throwing out to be refuted by people who know more about jazz than I do: The possibilities inherent in improvisation over a chord progression given by a tune and repeated through an arbitrarily long sequence of chorusses have been exhausted--everything sounds as if it has been heard before--fancy arrangements cannot hide this for long (and I won't even start about the state of the blues)...

PC 6:44 PM  

Ulrich*Just as the dictionary has many words that can be arranged in infinite ways, so can notes in jazz, even those structured by a written song. A musician has many choices of what to play based on chords, but also a player has a choice of tempos, instrumentation, dynamics, and with creativity added in, will play something new each time if he or she is any good. The great ones can make you feel like you are hearing familiar tunes for the first time. Unless you were writing about big band and et al. "arrangements", most improvised playing wends it's own way and little is planned, each tune finding its own course with the musicians feeding off each other. It doesn't always work but when it does it is wonderful.

Stan 7:08 PM  

I would respectfully submit:

This isn't a music blog and if I wanted to argue about music per se, I'd be going elsewhere. I kinda like it that we all have different and strong opinions about music, movies, or whatever. But I don't think that's what we are really about here.

chefwen 7:16 PM  

@Stan - Love your new avatar, but I kinda miss the old Rutabaga, my favorite veg.

slypett 7:44 PM  

PC, baby: The drugs and alcohol approach was tongue-in-cheek, sort of. What I was getting at is the need for some kind of experience with dirty hands and a dirty mind struggling for the light. Be cool.

Charles Bogle 7:50 PM  

Really enjoyed this puzzle, certainly very challenging for me (Fridays I allow myself to google--even that didn't help me yesterday. Loved "a Few GOODMEN" movie...also botched up early w Blue Moon...RETCH, SCREEDS--some of the short mis-direction stuff was very clever!

slypett 7:51 PM  

Stan: Why the outrage? We're often treated to mathematical and scientific and grammatical and food-preparation diversions. Never heard you complain about those. Get with the program. (Oops! There is no program.)

mac 7:55 PM  

@Stan: just before reading your last comment I thought: isn't it great, these tangents people go on and the interesting stuff I read about every day.

Stan 8:11 PM  

@slypett -- There was no outrage whatsoever intended. Against you or anyone else that weighed in on it.

Stan 8:25 PM  

@mac -- I totally trust your opinion and will henceforth keep it zipped on subjects like jazz that I don't know very much about.

Elaine 8:25 PM  

Huffing and puffing...a lot of posts to catch up with! and I see we have found a way to snarl...

I am with @mac: some of the little sidelines (see the SAMOVAR bit about halfway through the day) not only add to my pleasure, but increase general knowledge. You never know when this will come in handy, and I am not speaking just of CrossWorld.

I liked Slypett's joke (and the list PC made could be much, much longer)...but is there any artistic genre (or any walk of life) that has not lost talented members to personal demons, delusions, and devils?

I'm reminded of a poster left at John Belushi's grave: He could have given us a lot more laughs, but nooooooo. Too sad.

Bring the beet! That sheep thing is creeping me out.

retired_chemist 8:33 PM  

What fun today! We are all in good form, the discussion is lively and mutually respectful, and happy hour has started. Will need to go de-mud the dogs in a while, but for now all is copacetic.

@ Fikink - still on the Shiraz, saving the Ridge Zin.

Stan 8:37 PM  

Okay, the root vegetable is back. My behavior will no doubt improve. Speaking of which, four and out!

Two Ponies 8:57 PM  

I'm enjoying the music discussion.
I get the tongue-in-cheek about D&A.
There is no equivalent to graduating from the school of hard knocks. It applies to everything creative.
The words of my H.S. English teacher ring true. Write what you know and experience all you dare.
Happy hour has indeed kicked in.

andrea dizzy michaels 9:10 PM  

@Two Ponies,
With D and A, every hour can be happy hour!

(Only kidding but in re:
D and A often = early death (Chet Baker, Bix Beiderbecke, Billie Holiday,and Bird).
since this IS a crossword blog, I can only surmise that the early death was NOT D & A but having a B in their names.

(If it's rock & roll, J's have to watch out: Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison)

By the way, I detected zero outrage in @Stan's post, just a gentle herding of the (hep)cats...damn that whole email-easy-to-misinterpret thingie!

Stan's the man! For all we know it was Stan Getz weighing in!

fikink 9:49 PM  

@Ulrich, See Dave Brubeck's "Tangerine." The long version. Rivals the Grateful Dead's "Dark Star."

sanfranman59 10:03 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 7:39, 6:56, 1.10, 76%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 8:25, 8:44, 0.96, 46%, Medium
Wed 10:51, 11:58, 0.91, 27%, Easy-Medium
Thu 24:51, 19:40, 1.26, 94%, Challenging
Fri 26:36, 26:00, 1.02, 61%, Medium-Challengin

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:54, 3:41, 1.06, 74%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:18, 4:28, 0.96, 45%, Medium
Wed 5:10, 5:53, 0.88, 18%, Easy
Thu 11:08, 9:26, 1.18, 88%, Challenging
Fri 13:00, 12:30, 1.04, 70%, Medium-Challenging

lit.doc 10:16 PM  

@Stan, resist the urge to improve your behavior. And the Dark Sheep totally rocked. I'm just sayin'.

Well, on to Saturday...

PC 10:25 PM  

@adizzym**Let's hope not since Getz died in 1991. But what if??? Liked your lists.


Two Ponies**H.S.teacher rocks!

@slypett**We're cool! Can't fake experience, just live it.

mac 11:30 PM  

@TwoPonies: I heard Colum McCann speak last Tuesday. He told us he advises his students (MFA at Hunter, NY) NOT to write about what they know, but about what they aspire to experience. Before that I had only heard your reasoning.

@Stan: I agree with Andrea!

mac 11:31 PM  

heared.... And that is your teacher's reasoning.

Noam D. Elkies 11:32 PM  

Believe it or not, xwordinfo remembers three previous instances of ENTENTECORDIALE in the NYTimes crosswords — two other Fridays and one Saturday. Also two other ONCEINALIFETIME (all Fridays), one ACROSSTHEBORDER, while the other 15-letter entries are new (though MAKEAMENTALNOTE and MENTALNOTE have each been seen twice). So "entente cordiale" was arguably the most familiar of the eight grid-spanners!


sharpie1234 12:01 AM  

I like the tangents in the discussions, in fact, "tangents" represents what I love about xwords. Each puzzle takes me on a journey drawing on all aspects of my life/experiences. In what always seems like an incredible coincidence, there is usually one answer that relates directly to something that happened to me that week. In this case it was jamming to 'once in a lifetime' for the first time in 10 years.

(first post - though i've been reading/enjoying for a long time)

edith b 2:14 AM  

I had an odd experience with this puzzle as I couldn't get traction in any one area and ended up just working randomly until I put together pieces of the 15s, STREET at 17A, BORDER ending 3D, ELEPHANT opening 47A.

At this point I began building momemtum in the South and eventually seeing MUSICIANS in the North and I rolled from there.

I never felt like I had a handle on this one till I neared the end and, as a result, added another technique to my repertoire. You never seem to know what kind of animal you have by the tail. I am reminded of the fable of the blind man feeling an animal,and identifying it differently at each stop. Weird.

Unknown 11:19 AM  

What about this puzzle that we just below the Sunday puzzle yesterday? It doesn't say which Monday!

PDF of Monday’s Puzzle
Monday’s puzzle includes visual elements that cannot be displayed in Across Lite. Download a PDF of the puzzle here. (To view the PDF, download the latest version of Adobe Reader.

I don't undertand the 2 arrows. Where would a solution to this one be?

Singer 12:39 PM  

The view from 5 weeks later:

I was really happy to have two very elegant and difficult seeming puzzles in a row that I was totally in synch with. Today's puzzle fell together easily - for the most part I knew the answers immediately. Only exception was for SAY TO where I had SAY SO, leaving BROsH instead of BROTH. I decided that brosh had to be some bizarre Wall Street acronymn for an obscure type of investment - didn't click on cooking as the genre for the stock.

I did put in runs at instead of GOES AT - that is sort of a malapop given the RUN IN at 25A. When that went in, I thought that runs at probably wasn't right. Also went with a poll instead of A VOTE for my first entry and stars instead of OPELS.

It is remarkable that there could be this much white space and so many stacked 15s and have the puzzle actually be solvable in relatively normal Friday times - for me about 20 minutes, which is much better than usual.

Wonder what Saturday will bring.

Hey, my captcha is singoryi - almost my alias. Cool.

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